Sardines in a Tree


This week’s photo, taken August 23, 2014 at Meadowbrook Pond in northeast Seattle, WA, features a few BUSHTITS waking up after a night of snuggling. The light-eyed individual on the right is an adult female.

BUSHTITS are adorable little birds with some interesting habits. When they are not paired off during breeding season, they famously flock; so when you find one Bushtit, it’s likely that 10 or 20 more are nearby. They feed as a group in a tree, where they search for tasty spiders and other insects. Being mini-acrobats, they easily feed right side up, sideways or upside down. When their “leader” decides that it‘s time to move on to a neighboring tree, the rest of the flock follows the leader, usually one Bushtit at a time.

If you’ve ever seen a Bushtit in flight, then you know why they do not migrate any significant distance. They are very weak flyers. In fact, if you observe their short aerial commute from one tree to another, you might wonder if they are going to run out of gas before reaching the next tree.

The rumors are true that Bushtits sleep together. They huddle tightly on branches to stay warm during the night. Last Saturday was only the second time in my life I’ve ever stumbled upon a group of Bushtits waking up from their communal roost. I found a total of 12 -15 birds, in packs of 4-5 each, sleeping well past sunrise, but that was acceptable behavior since it was the weekend.

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About Joe Sweeney

I photograph birds to share the beauty and wonder I find in nature.
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2 Responses to Sardines in a Tree

  1. jere mcinerney says:

    Your bird observations delight me, Joe, and you inspire me to look more closely at nature. I’m off to Africa in a few weeks and this time I’ll be looking at the birds with added interest. thanks for making my day….again

  2. Connie Saunders says:

    Thanks for info on a species of bird unfamiliar to me. They sound very entertaining. Connie Saunders Minneapolis area

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